European champions Portugal have to be regarded as one of the favourites for the World Cup, according to former midfielder Deco.
Fernando Santos’ men were by no means expected to clinch Euro 2016 glory and could consider themselves lucky to even get out of Group F as one of the best third-placed teams.
Portugal finished behind Hungary and Iceland, but subsequently scraped past Croatia and Poland in the first two knockout stages before beating Wales in the last four and hosts France in the final.
Despite that triumph, few are speaking of Portugal as one of the teams expected to go deep into the competition in Russia, something Brazil-born Deco – who played for his adopted country for seven years from 2003 – thinks is odd.
“The World Cup is a more difficult championship, of course, but Spain were European champions and won a World Cup,” Deco told Omnisport.
“Germany was a runner-up and won a World Cup. Historically, squads that have won European Championships can win a World Cup. I have no doubt about it.
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“It wouldn’t be normal if a European champion wasn’t one of the favourites to win the World Cup. Portugal can repeat this history.
“Of course, I agree that it’s more difficult, but Portugal has played against the biggest squads in Europe and was at the same level.
“They have won some of these matches, so I don’t see why Portugal can’t be one of the favourites. For me, Portugal is one of the favourites for the World Cup title.”
Portugal’s first game in Group B should provide a good indication as to how much of an impact they will have on the finals, as they face neighbours Spain.
And while Deco recognises the 2010 winners possess some fine players, he thinks they are still in transition and trying to find a balance to their team.
“Spain is a mix of older generations with younger ones,” Deco said. “They are trying to find their usual style – they have a new manager.
“And to find players to do this is not an easy thing. They’ve won lots of things, they’ve won everything possible in these last years.
“Some players have gone and they made a difference, so they are trying to create a great team based on this mix.
“They have great players, for sure, but, to be a great squad, they need to find this balance.”
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